COMPASS: $1.5 trillion out the door; Ukrainian president to address Congress

March 14th, 2022

Good afternoon from Capitol Hill.

The House and Senate are both in session this week after passing a $1.5 trillion omnibus which funds both U.S. domestic priorities and sends $14 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. This was also the first bill in roughly a decade to be stuffed with earmarks – a procedure House Republicans welcomed back a year ago.

Chris Jacobs has more (and see this partial list of earmarks from Citizens for Renewing America):

As if the rushed process that led to the passage of last week’s omnibus spending legislation wasn’t bad enough in itself, members of Congress had more than 4,000 reasons not to vote for the spending bill, in the form of earmarks that made their return to Washington for the first time in a decade.

The process late last week proved chaotic, even by congressional standards. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had to strip out additional Covid funding because some House Democrats opposed paying for the spending by rescinding some of the hundreds of billions in federal bailout funds pledged to states. On the plus side, however, the drama in Washington meant a delayed start to congressional Democrats’ “retreat” (read: vacation) in Philadelphia, resulting in the cancellation of “a performance by storied drag queen Lady Bunny” (seriously).

But the piece de resistance of Washington corruption came with the return of earmarks—367 pages of them. At a time our nation faces $30 trillion in debt—not to mention rising inflation—lawmakers saw fit to spend your money on things like $3 million for a museum dedicated to the life of Mahatma Gandhi.

Over in the Senate, Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) offered an amendment to prohibit funds from being used for earmarks. The amendment vote failed 35 to 64, with 15 Republicans lining up to support it – including Republican minority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) You can see the vote breakdown here.

This week, both the House and Senate will continue their focus on the conflict in Ukraine. The House plans to take up a bill to strip permanent trade relations with Russia. And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address Congress on Wednesday morning.

President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee Kentanji Brown Jackson continues her meetings with senators. Senate Democrats are reportedly planning to begin her confirmation hearings next Monday, March 21. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, stated this morning that the hearings will be “fair” and “thorough” and that “we’re not going to get in the gutter like the Democrats did.”

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The latest podcast with CPI’s senior fellow Cleta Mitchell is with legendary pollster Scott Rasmussen. You can check it out here.